Some LESA community officers are illiterate or “only fit to carry out the most basic of tasks”, according to a National Audit Office report.

A number of the officers do not possess basic soft skills, which led to a number of incidents and such officers have no interest in improving their behaviour, the Local Enforcement System Agency reported to the NAO.

The NAO audit was presented to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Anġlu Farrugia, by Auditor General Charles Deguara on Wednesday.

The audit team flagged a list of concerns regarding the quality of community officers and the agency’s financial situation. Since community officers are the primary point of contact between the agency and the public, the NAO expressed its concern about the negative impact on LESA’s image.

LESA informed the NAO that certain individuals, particularly those transferred from the private contractor in 2018, did not meet what it considered to be “minimum quality thresholds”.

The agency described some of the officers as illiterate and only fit to carry out the most basic of tasks. Some officers do not possess adequate soft skills and have no interest in addressing this issue.

The agency employs 112 staff, 87 of whom are community officers.

The audit found that the agency is not managing to recruit the number of community officers it says are required. The review, however, also observed that the precise complement needed was not validated through a comprehensive and adequately documented study.

And the agency still does not have a systematic and formal process by which to monitor its community officers’ performance.

Financially, LESA is not allocated annual funding from the government budget. The agency finances its operations solely through the revenue it generates by issuing contraventions.

The NAO says this could lead to a scenario of reduced revenue if more people started to observe traffic rules.

The office recommends that the agency should petition for a change in legislation to have sufficient funds in case of any major unexpected expenses, for normal operations during low revenue periods or any significant investments.

The audit was informed that LESA is holding meetings with the government in a bid to resolve this issue.

LESA has also been advised to address significant weaknesses in its surveillance system on the local arterial road network.

The agency had never commissioned a study to determine accurately where CCTV or speed cameras were required on a national level.

Despite all its concerns, NAO believes that LESA has the potential to change.

“NAO believes that LESA’s image will be enhanced and that the provision of a higher quality and more comprehensive service can be secured.”

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